A Report on the 21st GFPP Meeting

21st GFPP Meeting
Amboise, France 12–16 May 2019


The 21st meeting of the French Peptides and Proteins Group (GFPP) was held in Amboise 500 years and a couple of days after the death of Leonardo Da Vinci, who spent his last years in the Chateau du Clos-Lucé, located a few kilometers away from conference center, in the beautiful and historic Loire valley area.

Location of the twenty-one GFPP meetings organized since 1978.

This conference followed earlier meetings that have taken place all around France every two years since 1978: the GFPP symposium series is among the longest-running peptide events in Europe. Our meetings seek to promote interdisciplinarity and to facilitate contact between different scientific communities: chemists and biologists, academics and private enterprise delegates.

This symposium had a high attendance: it brought together almost 200 attendees, including 20% foreign visitors. The official language of the 21st edition was English, in order to make this national event accessible to international participants. More than one third of the registered participants were PhD students and post-doctoral researchers. In keeping with tradition, the GFPP executive board awarded fellowships to many young researchers (seventeen in total) in order to give them the opportunity to present and discuss their research work with their peers in the peptide and protein research community.

Group photo of the 21st GFPP meeting participants.

The Scientific Committee was composed of the elected members of the GFPP executive board, while the local organizing committee was co-chaired by Dr. Vincent Aucagne and Dr. Agnès Delmas (both from the CNRS Center for Molecular Biophysics, Orléans).

A: the GFPP executive board (from left to right: Vincent Aucagne, David Aitken, Fréderic Bihel, Sonia Cantel, Sophie Faure, Grégory Chaume, Olivier Sénèque, Elisabeth Garanger, Françoise Ochsenbein, Samuel Couve-Bonnaire, Emeric Miclet, Florine Cavelier. The board includes two other members, Arthur Colau and Olivier Lequin, not present in the photo); B: poster session (93 poster were presented); C: a view of the lecture room; D: opening ceremony by GFPP president and vice-president.

The Symposium started with an inaugural conference given by Jean-Alain Fehrentz (Montpellier) whose outstanding contributions to peptide science include the recent FDA approval of Macrilen for the diagnosis of growth hormone deficiency. Invited lectures covered a wide range of hot topics in contemporary peptide science and included presentations by Pau Bernado (CBS, Montpellier, France) on structural aspects of the intrinsically-disordered protein huntigtin, Jonathan Clayden (University of Bristol, UK) on the design of switchable foldamers as GPCR mimics for transmembrane signal transduction, Peter Faller (ICS, Strasbourg, France) on bioinorganic chemistry of amyloidogenic peptides, Arnaud Gautier (Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, France) on genetically-encoded protein-based fluorescent probes, Beate Koksch (Free University of Berlin, Germany) on bacterial life based on fluorinated amino acids, Sandrine Ongeri (BioCIS, Chatenay-Malabry, France) on the design of peptidomimetics to inhibit protein-protein interactions involving beta-sheet structures, Sandrine Sagan (LBM, Paris, France) on the understanding of cell-penetrating peptides at a molecular level, Denis Servent (CEA, Saclay, France) on the pharmacology and engineering of disulfide-rich miniprotein toxins, David Spring (University of Cambridge, UK) on diversity-oriented synthesis of stapled peptide, Hiroaki Suga (The University of Tokyo, Japan) on combinatorial biochemistry tools aimed at revolutionizing drug discovery and Dek Woolfson (University of Bristol, UK) on de novo peptide/protein design for synthetic biology.

The twelve invited speakers: from left to right and top to bottom: B. Koksch, H. Suga, S. Sagan, D. Servent, S. Ongeri, P. Faller, J. Clayden, J.-A. Fehrentz, P. Bernado, D. Spring, A. Gautier, D. Woolfson.

Full details on the program can be found at the GFPP website: https://www.gfpp.fr.

During the Tuesday afternoon break from the scientific program, participants chose between a trip to the Chenonceau château and the international garden festival of Chaumont-sur-Loire, a visit of two wine cellars including wine tasting sessions, and an aquatic excursion by canoe on the river Loire to discover some of Loire Valley’s most popular tourist attractions.

Social events. A: wine-tasting in a troglodyte cave; B: playing pétanque; C: preparation for canoeing on the Loire; D: Wednesday night fever.

The comprehensive and high-level scientific program, combined with the informal and friendly atmosphere and the sunny weather made this meeting a great success, as testified by the very positive feedback received from participants.

Special thanks go to the sixteen sponsoring companies that exhibited during the symposium and their representatives, who interacted constructively with the participants during the coffee and lunch breaks. We also very warmly thank all other industrial sponsors of the symposium, as well as the University of Orléans, the Région Centre-Val-de-Loire, the French Chemical Society (SCF), and the European Peptide Society. Without their generous financial support, all this would not have been possible!

Contributed by Vincent Aucagne

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